New Photos of Dwarf Planet Ceres Reveal Mysterious Bright Spots
As NASA's Dawn spacecraft races toward a March 6 arrival at the icy world, puzzling features come into view.
New images of the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt, reveal a world that's even stranger than scientists expected.
The 590-mile-wide (950 kilometers) icy world is pockmarked by craters, photos released Tuesday show, and has curiously rugged terrain at its south pole and several enigmatic bright spots dotting its surface.
It's those bright spots—perhaps expanses of ice, but for now scientists can't say—that are attracting the bulk of speculation. At least one of them has been glimpsed before in blurrier pictures taken with the Hubble Space Telescope.
"Our sharper view reveals some [spots] that Hubble could not discern," says Dawn chief engineer and mission director Marc Rayman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "As Dawn gets closer